Saturday, June 15, 2024

Crestwood tops Perry, Geneva

AKRON—Crestwood’s relatively young softball team has grown up in a hurry and the Red Devils pushed their winning streak to nine this weekend with a couple of big wins over Chagrin Valley Conference foes Perry and Geneva as part of the Akron Racers tournament at Firestone Stadium.

The Red Devils, who improved to 13-7 on the year, opened the weekend with an 8-6 win over Canton Central Catholic on Saturday and then beat Perry, 2-1, in nine innings in that evening’s nightcap. They closed the weekend with a 3-0 win over Geneva and a 1-0 victory over Bristol on Sunday.

“I was very pleased this weekend,” said Crestwood coach LeRoy Moore. “On the bus ride home, I told them this was an excellent weekend for us. We only gave up one run, especially against two quality teams like Perry and Geneva.

Mikayla Berquist continued to riddle the Perry lineup.

In a 2019 regional semifinal, Berquist allowed just four hits in a 6-1 win over the Pirates, and on Saturday, she scattered three hits across nine innings.

Bella Hunter was just as impressive in beating Geneva on Sunday.

Hunter gave up just two hits to the Eagles, with the first coming in the sixth inning, and struck out nine.

Aimee Barnauskas closed out the weekend with a two-hit shutout of Bristol.

“Our pitchers, Mikayla and Bella had excellent games and even Aimee Barnauskas pitched well against Bristol,” Moore said. “Each pitcher only gave up two hits in their games, so that was a good weekend of pitching.”

Slugger Maci Head, who already has broken the school’s career home run record, led the Red Devils at the plate against the Eagles. She finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three doubles.

Head took advantage of each opportunity she had to put the bat on the ball as many teams have pitched around her this season.

“I approached my at-bats knowing I wasn’t going to be getting much on the plate, but I knew I had to get the bat on the ball considering the games were pretty tight,” she said. “I was looking for some base hits so we could string some together and get runs on the board.”

Berquist followed Head in the order and finished the game 1-for-4 with two runs batted in. Kaitlyn Huffman knocked in Head in the sixth inning to close out the scoring.

“We switched up our lineup because we were always having Maci bat fourth with Mikayla batting third and, during that time, Aimee was moved to protect Maci a little bit,” Moore said. “They started walking Maci every time they got to her, so we flipped some things to challenge the defense. We moved Maci up to the three-spot and put Mikayla in the fourth spot and she’s done an excellent job in protecting Maci. When Maci does get on, like she did this weekend, Mikayla followed up each time with run-scoring singles and one time with a double. She’s been coming through for us at the right time.”

Crestwood’s last loss was an 18-5 setback to Division I Eastlake North on April 17.

Since then, the Red Devils are 9-0 and have outscored their opponents 59-29.

“I feel pretty good,” Moore said. “We’re on a nine-game winning streak. The last game we lost was against a powerful North team, so it’s a good time to be peaking. I hope we’re not peaking too soon, but it’s a good time to be playing some good ball, especially going into the tournaments.”

A four-win weekend provided the Red Devils with even more confidence as they head toward the postseason.

“It was, of course, very exciting, especially seeing my team come together and work toward those wins,” Head said. “Our pitchers did an amazing job holding down some very good hitters and our defense was there to back them up. Going undefeated is always amazing as well.”

Geneva finished the weekend 1-2 with a loss to Howland in its first game on Saturday. The Eagles bounced back with a 20-7 win over Bristol in their second game at Firestone on Saturday.

The 3-0 loss to Crestwood was a bit of an aberration for a team that normally pounds the ball.

Geneva has scored 10 or more runs in half of its games this season.

“Usually, our bats are what keeps us in the games,” said Geneva coach Eleshia Pitcher. “We usually crush the ball but it just wasn’t there today. (Hunter) was moving the ball around nicely and it just didn’t happen.”

While the Eagles struggled to mount any offense against Hunter and the Red Devils, their defense sparkled.

Geneva turned two double plays off of great diving catches and doubling up a runner on base as well as several running catches and even an over-the-shoulder catch by its outfielders.

“Today was probably the best defensive game we played in a long time,” Pitcher said. “We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the team. Our whole infield but one is a freshman or sophomore. They’re getting better, that’s all that matters. Hopefully, this builds confidence so they can see they actually can do this.”

Abby Stash and Carmen Alvarez recorded hits for the Eagles against Crestwood.

Steve Hare
Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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